Brooks Koepka tips Tommy Fleetwood to become a major star

Lynette Rowe
June 23, 2018

He played 18 holes at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course in Southampton, N.Y., on Sunday, another nine on Monday, then two more days of practice before teeing off on Thursday. The other was about patience.

Koepka, 28, who joined Curtis Strange (1988-89) and Ben Hogan (1950-51) as the only players to win consecutive Opens since the end of WWII, was on point with all facets of his game, tapping into his mental state, eye-opening power and imperative short game with equal reward.

On Monday's "Off the Bench" podcast, Raja Bell and Danny Kanell talked U.S. Open, and gave their opinion on the course taking over the weekend. "He is very talented and believed in himself [at Shinnecock Hills]".

"I don't know what it's like to repeat back-to-back years, but we do what we do for the glory, for the other people that talk about it". "And to finally do it, it's much more gratifying the second time".

"You would say he can win more majors, he's young enough, he's number four in the world now and when you are at that sort of standard you are always capable of winning more".

2013 US Open champion Justin Rose, one shot off the lead at four-over par after a 73, also accused the USGA of going too far.

"Unfortunately I don't have much of a gauge on the difficulty of last week", he said.

"I don't, to be honest with you". "I enjoy being pushed to the limit".

"I would've taken five, to be honest with you, from where we were".

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He holed eight birdies, including a superb run of four on the trot in the middle of the back nine, but missed an eight-foot putt on the last that would have seen him post a 62.

Keep those numbers in mind as we remember what happened on the 18th hole to Johnson, Reed, and Finau. It cost him a chance in a playoff.

It made for an exciting final round right from the start, with Masters victor Patrick Reed grabbing five birdies in his first seven holes, Matt Fitzpatrick also on the charge and then Koepka coming through. He tied the record of 16-under a year ago at wide-open Erin Hills, and had enough to repeat at treacherous Shinnecock.

He has barely missed a beat in his return, finishing tied for 11th at the Players Championship last month and runner-up at the Fort Worth Invitational with three rounds of 67 or better as he warmed up for his title defense. The first, of course, ended with a win. Nowhere was that more evident than on the par-3 11th.

Koepka pulled it to the left, down the slope, and into thick grass. "The speed of the greens picked up". He blasted it out to 8 feet and made the putt to keep his lead at one shot. "Because it could have been a big momentum shift there, and we could have been playing tennis just going back and forth".

He wasn't through. He hacked out of the hay over the green at No. 12, pitched beautifully to 7 feet, and made the par.

Zach Johnson, who finished tied for 16th place after a 72, said the USGA had "lost the golf course". Only five players have shot 63 in the U.S. Open, and only Johnny Miller in 1963 - when he won the tournament - had done it in the fourth round. "He's one of the best to ever play the game". "It wasn't great for me, but it was great as a golfer to watch how he did it".

Claiming his third victory on the US PGA Tour, world No.9 Koepka will pocket a winner's cheque of $US2.16 million ($A2.90 million).

The uncomplicated Koepka, playing the final round with his close friend Dustin Johnson, never looked fussed or bothered, which is his way.

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